Pop-culture icons and sly wit make Schaller's work irresistible
● By J. Chambless
You can't miss the fact that Jeff Schaller has a show this month at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square. There's a huge pop-art collage by him over the gallery window facing State Street.
It's always a pleasure to find Schaller's work, and this show has a great selection of small paintings, as well as his room-filling statement pieces. Schaller's pop-culture celebrations synthesize the languages we all speak – advertising logos, Saturday morning TV and the kind of retro cool graphics that you find on matchbook covers of the 1950s. He's a very successful artist whose work graces the walls of regional Iron Hill Brewery locations, and his solo exhibits have ranged far and wide. You can't help but admire his good-natured wordplay and sly juxtapositions of images and text.
He's not above some puns, either, as in "Cocktails" and "Cocktails Aqua," which put roosters, text and martini glasses together.
There are layers of nostalgia in "Good Wayne," a painting that memorializes John Wayne, a vintage TV set and a strip of advertising that reads, "Good Body Builder." Then there's "Sweet," a tribute to the love of classic car design, bringing together the logos for Dots candy and Sweet Tarts, as well as the looming blue hood and chrome bumper of a 1950s car.
A wall of mixed-media works brings Schaller's style to a smaller scale, with all of his whimsy intact. "Lucky" blends a 7-Up bottle with Seagram's 7 whisky and the whole "lucky seven" idea; and "A Moment" is a poignant collage of a 1960s swimmer and a Kodak camera ad.
All working folks can identify with "After Work," in which a beaming waiter holds a tray of drinks and a housewife in an apron smiles in approval. "More Love, Love More" is a wonderful composition of a man and woman overlaid with textures and inverted type, suggesting a movie's worth of backstory.
There are inexpensive T-shirts with Schaller's designs – including an adorable child's size – so you can carry some his unmistakably sunny attitude home with you. Step into the gallery and you'll become a fan.
Works by Jeff Schaller are on view at Mala Galleria (206 E. State St., Kennett Square) through Jan. 15. Visit www.mallagalleria.com, or call 610-998-5892 for more information.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.